Sunday, November 16, 2014

Smells Like Tween Spirit: Get to Know Lucy and CeCee

Lucy Pringle and CeCee Cruz are the zany "authors" of the award-winning Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School.  L & C will put your freak-out on pause as they give helpful hints, scary switch solutions, and lingo lessons on how to navigate middle school.  Their solemn promise is to to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - so help them good fairy of popularity.


Full Name: Lucy Anne Pringle

Biggest Dream: To be popular and have a boyfriend with a one-syllable J name like Jim, Jake, or Joel; to be invited to Kandi Klass’s annual birthday sleepover party*

Favorite Word: Ew!

Favorite Color: Bubblegum pink

Biggest Fear: Being ignored

Siblings: Older sister, Lilly (sixteen years old and thinks she’s all that), and younger sister, Lacey (six years old and soooo annoying!)

Three Words to Describe Self: Bouncy, spazzy, chatty

Thing I Love about Self: Kinda cute toes

Thing I Hate about Self: Eyebrows are bordering on a unibrow but too scared to pluck

Birthday: April 23

Most Valued Possession: My faux Coach purse

Three Things I’d Take on a Deserted Island: My faux Coach purse, autographed picture of Justin Bieber purchased on eBay, Taylor Swift CD

Obsession: Astrology and my less-than-perfect complexion making me feel like Zit-zilla

Biggest Annoyance: Being perpetually grounded to the Tower of Pringle

Secret: I’m 99.9 percent positive everyone at Madison Heights thinks I’m a dork

Bestest Bestie: CeCee Cruz

Luv Her Cuz: She has great specs appeal

Favorite Book: Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham

Favorite Movie: The Princess Diaries (reminds me that dreams do come true)

Hobby: Going to the mall; reading Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and CosmoGIRL

Favorite Food: Cinnabons and Taco Bell (not together, but wouldn’t be opposed)

*Kandi Klass is the VIP queen bee of Madison Heights Middle School. She is the standard by which all other MHMS girls are measured and both my idol and the bane of my existence. Her birthday is April 2—the day of her annual birthday sleepover party. It’s my absolute dream to be invited. If only she knew I existed …


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  


Full Name: Cecelia Elena Cruz

Biggest Dream: To seek the truth and see that good conquers evil (Okay—I’m an over-the-top fantasy geek)

Favorite Word: Tolkienesque

Favorite Color: Magenta

Biggest Fear: Failure to achieve my middle school* scholastic quest

Siblings: Older sister, Cora (fifteen and a sophomore in high school)

Three Words to Describe Self: Quiet, brainy, trendsetter**

Thing I Love about Self: Astute observer of the human condition

Thing I Hate about Self: I hiccup when I get nervous (the superloud kind)

Birthday: August 28

Most Valued Possession: My Lady of Guadalupe locket from my great-grandmother

Three Things I’d Take on a Deserted Island: My Lady of Guadalupe locket, iPod, family photo

Obsession: In lieu of any magical crystal amulet, I shall never be without my Blistex

Biggest Annoyance: People who don’t use the gifts bestowed on them and who are mean for no reason

Secret: I have a belly ring (Shhhhh …)

Bestest Bestie: Lucy Pringle

Luv Her Cuz: She makes me laugh and reminds me not to take myself so seriously

Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings

Favorite Movie(s): The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King

Hobby: Editor of school newspaper

Favorite Food: Twizzler Nibs


*Middle school is kind of like Middle-earth. It’s a magical journey filled with elves, dwarves, hobbits, queens, kings, and a few corrupted wizards. Word to the wise: pick your traveling companions well. Ones with the courage and moral fiber to persevere. Ones who wield their lip gloss like magic wands when confronted with danger. This way, when you pass through the congested hallways rife with pernicious diversion, you achieve your desired destination—or at least your next class.

**Irony alert—I’m a class-A brainiac, but my clothes are way fetch! (Take that, Gretchen Wieners!)






Sunday, November 9, 2014

Three Reasons to Teach The Hunger Games

I decided to add The Hunger Games to my middle school repertoire this year.  I realize I’m coming to the party a little late, but what an academic coup!  Students who sluggishly slog into class, run into class bellowing, “Are we reading today???"  "Can we pleeeeease read The Hunger Games?”  

Yes!!!

Upon my post-unit reflection, there are three excellent reasons to teach The Hunger Games:  

1) The Hunger Games Motivates Reluctant Readers:

First it was Harry Potter and then Twilight.  Every few years a magical book comes around that has the ability to captivate even the most reluctant of readers.  The Hunger Games is such a book.  It’s an intoxicating combination of action, suspense, philosophy, and romance that packs a literary punch.  Alongside its action-packed plot, is a profound thematic message about discovering what you truly believe and how far you are willing to fight for your beliefs.

2) Katniss - A Heroine for Today’s Generation:

The Hunger Games appeals to boys and girls alike.  That said, Katniss is a nice break from the whiny, helpless Bella.  Katniss embodies the temperament of most adolescents: difficult, prickly, moody.  Yet, she also possesses enormous physical and moral strength as she volunteers as a tribute, selflessly taking the place of her younger sister, Prim.  Katniss Everdeen is without a doubt, the girl on fire!

3) Heavy Themes Equal Profound Discussion:

The Hunger Games’ profound themes allow for profound discussion.  Students want to be part of the conversation, weighing in on poverty, political oppression, and yes, the violence.  Engaging students with adult topics and capitalizing on their passion for the book generates into real life action.  One tween professed, “I can’t wait to turn eighteen so I can vote and change our own government.”

Game on!!!




For lessons plans and activities on The Hunger Games, visit Kimberly's store at:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Teens and Horror: A Perfect Marriage

When it comes to horror, Hollywood knows teens are an easy kill (pun intended).  Look how they flock to the theaters to spend an evening with Michael, Freddy, and the freaky Ring girl who lives in VCR’s.  And unlike their curmudgeonly, adult counterparts, teens don’t thumb their nose at sequels, especially when it comes the trinity of slice and dice: Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth, and Nightmare on Elm Street.  Compound that with their new penchant for torture porn like Saw, Hostel, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s easy for us adults to shake our heads and go Hmmmm.

So why are teens so disproportionately attracted to the adrenaline rush?  Why the insatiable thirst for blood and guts? Reflecting back on one’s own adolescence, it’s clear why. 

There is an undeniable parallel between a horror and adolescence.  Imagine the monster and then imagine it being the angst of adolescence itself – a metaphor for all the anxieties associated with that six-year time gap between childhood and adulthood.  When teens watch horror, they live vicariously through the protagonist.  And while they writhe and scream in their seats, they’re experiencing a personal connection – their own need to survive and conquer on a deep psychological level.  

Of course the odds are stacked against the hapless cast.  They will either succumb or conquer the Big Bad.  And just like Michael and Freddy, Adolescence comes after teens with a vengeance, leaving no prisoners.  It’s just they and Pubescence Personified alone in the Alley of Adolescence, like the blonde girl in A Nightmare on Elm Street, running away pointlessly as Freddy runs his knife fingers up against the walls.  Parents can’t help.  Friends can’t help.  Even the environment is impotent.  Those safe confines of home, school, and the suburban neighborhood no longer protect.  Adolescence rules and hungers for the teenage immortal soul!  But with a little knowledge, skill, and courage, the teenage years can be dealt with sans the bloody sequel.    

So next time you see the walking hormonal hoards lined up to see the next Paranormal 15, root for them!  After all, everyone wants to be the hero of their own adventure.  




An Excerpt from the Award-Winning Cheerage Fearage

Fly high and Die!!
            
The silver moon threw light on the two girls as they eagerly peeled off their clothes, tossing them in heaps on the wooden dock.  They jumped off into the vast lake, giggling and squealing at the shock of its coldness as the dark water swallowed up their tanned, limber bodies.

Although fierce competitors on the school’s most exclusive faction, the two girls were the best of friends with much in common.  They ran with the same elite crowd, dated the same square-jawed jocks, and chose the same stylish trends to be mindlessly imitated by featureless masses.  Quite simply, they were perfection personified coupled with a “rules-don’t apply-to-us” attitude that even the teachers chose not to challenge - the outcome resulting in unequivocal classroom suicide.

“Nervous about tomorrow?” asked the sandy blonde with an I-know-better grin.

 “Yeah, right,” shot back the redhead.  “It’s in the bag, sister.  Fly high or die.”

 “You know I love you best, right?"

 “Of course.  It’s you and me forever.”

They traded playful splashes and squeals until without warning, the blonde gripped the redhead’s neck taking her under.  She held down the thrashing body, welcoming the newfound power and control that had evaded her for so long.  Vindication was only moments away….

Responding to a startling kick to the shin, she released the girl without delay playing it off with a full-bodied laugh.  “What are you doing?” the redhead yelled, spastically choking.  “You trying to kill me?”

“Relax,” said the blonde.  “You’re my best friend.  I would never hurt you.  You know that, right?”

But the redhead didn’t answer – at least not with words.  Her shrill scream was cut short by the blonde thrusting her under again, this time with even more force.  She yanked tufts of the covetous red hair everyone always spoke about, the crowning feature that solidified her title of reigning school beauty.  Brutally jerking her head to the left and wrenching it to the right, she forced the girl to swallow massive amounts of water.

The redhead’s adrenaline now metastasized into rank primal fear.  She kicked and scratched for dear life causing the blonde to tighten her grip.  Overcome with sheer panic followed by pure helplessness, the redhead relaxed into an inevitable surrender.

With the determined patience of a professional assassin, the blonde counted slowly to fifty, waiting for the shapely, agile form that had cruelly beat her out of every competition to go still and flaccid forever.  She delighted in feeling the strong steady pulse slow to a mere fleeting throb and then finally to complete nothingness.  When the time came, the blonde released the body into the dark water without pause or sentiment, and gracefully swam back to the dock, crawling up the ladder with a smooth, athletic gait.

Mission accomplished.

Giddily content, the blonde patted away streaming lines of lake water with her tank top, tossing it back on along with her vintage cutoffs.  She left the other’s clothes balled up below the “NO DIVING” sign and never looked back.  The long-suffering second-in-command was now the captain of the Valentine Cheerleading Squad.

It was official.  The queen bee had be dethroned and destroyed.





Now available from Wild Child Publishing:


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Big Project

An Excerpt From the Award-Winning Tell-All 
Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School

Lucy: Some teachers have BPS (Big Project Syndrome).

CeCee: BPS teachers just love, love, love the big projects. They love creating them, assigning them, talking about them, and grading them.

Lucy: Big projects either make or break you. Speaking from past experience, I can only vouch for being broken.

CeCee: So when you are assigned one, especially a long-term big project, it’s best to do your bestest because it’s very easy to get overwhelmed with the big project. And when you’re overwhelmed, it’s very easy to procrastinate. And when you procrastinate, it’s very easy to blow it off.

Lucy: And when you blow it off, it’s very easy to fail.




CeCee’s Tips on Acing the Big Project

Really understand the assignment. If there is a rubric or criteria chart, be sure to follow it. Ask questions if you are unsure about something.

Make an itemized list of all materials you will need, including poster board, markers, and so on. Buy all your supplies early on so you’re not panicking the night before.

Organize and calendar all due dates, especially if there are multiple deadlines.

If the project includes research, seek help from the information master herself—the school librarian. When she’s not shhhhhing, she can be very helpful in helping you find the appropriate resources.

Break up project into small parts or tasks. Make a little schedule or have a daily check-off list.

Project should be superneat. No typos, ripped edges, or messy writing. Always word process it if you can. When it’s time to submit it, make sure to write your teacher’s name, class, and date on a title page—along with your name, of course.

Set a date to finish a few days before it’s due. If possible, show the teacher, and ask if you’re on the right track so he or she will know you care.

If the teacher allows, do something extra cool—like a video or PowerPoint.



*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  

Life Science, Mr. Kragler  
October 5
Period 3


Science project notes on electricity experiment (and love analogy) by Lucy Pringle

Objective: To demonstrate static electricity using cereal, my hair, and a comb.

Materials used:
*Plastic comb  
*Twelve-inch piece of thread
*Hair (dry, not wet)  
*Tape
*Puffed rice cereal

Process:

1) Okay, first, I tied this piece of puffed rice cereal to one end of a twelve-inch piece of thread. Then, I taped thread to the edge of my mother’s dining room table. (She got a little trippy about the tape taking off the finish, but I explained it was helping me pass science.)

2) Next, I washed my comb to remove all my hair oils and dried it well.

3) Then, I charged the comb by running it through my hair several times.

4) After that, I brought the comb near the hanging cereal piece and noticed it swung on its own in order to touch the comb. I held it still for a few seconds until the cereal jumped away by itself.

5) Knowing the cereal jumped away because of Mr. Kragler’s spellbinding lecture on the dynamics of electricity, I tried touching the comb to the cereal again. As expected, it moved away as the comb approached, sort of like I do when I see Lyle Whitehurst coming down the hall.


Explanation:
Okay, so the act of combing my hair jacked up these electron thingies because the comb has a negative static charge. And then, the neutral cereal was attracted to it but only at first. When they actually touched, the electrons moved from the comb to the cereal, making them all spazzy. Because both objects had the same negative charge, the cereal was repelled and then voilĂ —electricity!


Reflection:
This was a supercool experiment and reminded me of when I liked this BMOC, Josh Land, who I thought was the polar opposite of me: cool, attractive, and wildly popular. Anyway, it turns out he had this serious negative charge because he thought he was all that (and wasn’t) and liked this other girl, Kandi Klass (who eventually wanted to kick my butt). As it turns out, this negative charge had a negative effect on me. And yeah, it took a while, but eventually, I got repelled by him and now can’t even stand to look at him—mostly because his feelings were never reciprocal and his girlfriend still sees me as hate bait, but we won’t even go there … cuz now I like a new boy named Eddie—and guess what—he likes me! (IDTBC—Impending Drama to be Continued!)
 
Anyway, who would have thought Life Science was so much like real love? This experiment rocked, Mr. K.!


An excellent analogy, Ms. Pringle.
Grade—A+






Monday, September 22, 2014

Happy Banned Book Week!

According to the American Library Association, here is a listing of ten classic books that are subject to being banned in American schools.  How many have you read?



1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

2. The Catcher in the Rye

3. To Kill a Mockingbird

4. Bridge to Terabithia

5. The Lord of the Flies

6. Of Mice and Men

7. The Color Purple

8. Harry Potter Series

9. Slaughterhouse Five

10. The Bluest Eye


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Download Your Cybersmartz

An Excerpt From the Award-Winning Tell-All 
Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School

Let’s face it.  It’s a cyber world out there.  Here’s a quick list on how to be savvy on the internet and download your cybersmartz.:

Don’t plagiarize from the Internet.  Besides the fact it’s cheating, teachers are getting wise to this and chances of getting busted are excellent.

Don’t get in email or text wars.

Keep the peace at home and talk to parents about rules and guidelines for going online.  Agree to keep up with homework and that websites should be age-appropriate.

Never meet anyone online without telling a parent or checking with them first.

Nix the webcam.  Overall, not a good idea.

Don’t T.M.I. on myspace or other websites.  Before you know it, your overshare will go viral and you’ll be e-famous for all the wrong reasons.

Don’t be duped by those misleading banner ads.  Put the blinders on and ignore them.

Show good netiquette and never cyber-dump anyone.

Most cell phones are portable computers, so apply the same rules with your phone as online.

Blog rages may be all the rage but are tiresome to read.  Whatever you write can and will be held against you.

Think before you post.  Today’s friend can be tomorrow’s enemy.  And once something is sent, you can’t command Z it.

Keep all passwords private and don’t give away any personal information about yourself.

To avoid e-gret, play nice online.  If you don’t have anything positive to say, it’s probably best you don’t say anything at all.

Know your school cell phone policy.  Even if it’s loose, it’s best to keep your cell in your  backpack turned off along with your iPod.  Otherwise, there is a high risk of getting it stolen.

NEVER, EVER, EVER sext.  Remember, cyberspace lasts forever.

Don’t ever use cell phone to cheat.

Don’t let anyone text and drive.

Don’t believe everything you read online.

If you’re being cyber-stalked or harassed – get help immediately from an adult.

Don’t ever take or post pictures of people without their permission or knowledge.

Downtime is healthy; turn off your cyberworld and read a book or call a friend.





Cyber acronyms are cool to use when texting, emailing, or IMing.  Here are the basic ones to know and love:

BFF – Best Friend Forever
BTW – By the way
FYI – For your information
G2G – Got to go
IDK – I don’t know
IDC – I don’t care
IMHO – In my honest opinion
IMNSHO – In my not so honest opinion
L8R - Later
LOL – Laugh Out Loud
PIR – Parent in room
POS – Parent over shoulder
PAL- Parents are listening
PAW – Parents are watching
ROFL – Rolling on floor laughing
TMI – Too much information
TTFN – Ta Ta for now



TEXTS FROM CECEE TO LUCY AND LUCY TO CECEE


Hi Luce.  I miss u.  Want 2 hang out
tonight?  S.S. for everything.  You’re
right - should have told u about Kandi’s
invite.  Can u forgive and absolve me
for my horrible-ness?
C.



Hey CeCee.  Missed u 2.  Can’t hang
out 2-night.  Have 2 work on science
project or Kragler’s going 2 totally fail
me.
L.
P.S.  I was wrong 4 telling u not 2 publish
about the uniform thing.  S.S.



Want help on your project?
C.



Thx.  But have 2 do this 1
on my own.  Got myself
n-2 this mess.  How bout the
mall this wkend?
L.



4 sure.  R we still B.F.F.?
C.



Of course.  Luv u!  ☺





Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Students Acting Slothy? Teach Them Something Gothy!

The honeymoon is officially over, and it's about this time that students reveal subtle symptoms of slothy sluggishness.  Consequently, around late September/early October, I reach deep in my literacy bag of tricks for my go-to Gothic Literature unit.  Reading spine-tingling excerpts from Dracula, Frankenstein, or Edgar Allan Poe are all but guaranteed to reignite enthusiasm from my students and possibly even the most reluctant of readers who have yet to reveal their literary chops.  (My hope is, in keeping with the theme, they are merely keeping me in suspense!)




That said, before plunging into the dark world of castles, chambers, and creepy cloisters, students require background information on Gothic Literature itself.  It is at this time we examine five basic elements of Gothic Literature, which I have classified into the following categories:


5 Elements of Gothic Literature

1) Elements of Superstition
  • Presence of ghosts, vampires, etc.
  • Unexplained sounds, sights, occurrences
  • Eerie atmosphere
  • Mysterious tone adds to building of tension

2) Emotions and Passions
  • Emotion surpasses rationality
  • Spells of hysteria, lust, and anxiety
  • Frequent crying and screaming
  • Detailed sensory description revealing characters’ passions
  • Characters experience terror and hysteria due to miasmic atmosphere


3) Broken Families
  • Families are often broken, incestuous, or murderous
  • Women subject to lustful wrongdoings 
  • Male characters are tyrannical
  • Women depicted as damsels in distress
  • Family unit confining, from which characters must escape

4) Eerie, mysterious setting
  • Claustrophobic, dark venues such as an old castle, mansion, or abbey
  • Places of fear and dread that portray the world as deteriorating
  • Desperate, dark ruined scenery
  • Surrounding area is dismal and rotting, often adding a haunting flavor of impending doom


5) Distinctive Characters
  • Characters are lonely, isolated, and oppressed
  • Presence of a tyrannical villain 
  • Action revolves around an unrequited love, or illicit love affair 
  • A vendetta or vengeance is a prominent theme

After my students are fully inducted into the world of Gothic Literature, it's time for them to write their own stories.  For inspiration, I offer some creepy music, telling them to listen at their own risk.  (Note to Blog Reader: Play at your own risk!)




Assignment: Write a Gothic Story...

The requirements are as follows:
  • Setting must be a large old house or graveyard
  • An unexplainable, scary event occurs in the house or graveyard 
  • Presence of the supernatural, such as a ghost, vampire, or werewolf
  • Unexplained phenomenon, such as doors slamming shut or lights turning on/off by themselves
  • Highly emotional characters who cry and scream
  • Implementation of Gothic symbols, such as a staircase, shadows, or a full moon.  

With a little inspiration from the darker works of the literary canon, students can't help but get their Goth on.  Whether you are a teacher, writer, or simply have a nagging nostalgia for Manic Panic, it's the perfect time to reach inside YOUR creepy bag of tricks and write your own Gothic tale.  



For more literary Goth inspiration, go to Kimberly's product store at: